The Roma (Gypsies) in Europe are despised and hated by the mainstream population. They are victims of extreme prejudice and are forced to live on the margins of society. When most Americans hear the term "Gypsy", certain characteristics probably come to mind - transient, musicians, fortune-tellers, liars, thieves, deceitful, alcoholics, etc. This picture of the Roma has been promoted by Hollywood for years and years. Unfortunately, much of this stereotype is true. The pre-communism Roma in Slovakia where artisans and craftsmen, gifted in working with their hands. Many made farm tools and instruments, which they sold to farmers as they traveled around the region. Farmers would anticipate the "Gypsies" coming through every year so they could restock their tools, equipment, etc. This was a beneficial relationship for both sides. When the communists came into Slovakia, things changed for the Roma. The communists didn't like the Roma moving around all the time. They wanted everyone to stay in one place, where it was easier to watch and control them. Taking away the Roma's transient lifestyle, basically took away their livelihood. They lost their means of income and their place in society. Years later we see the results of this - a culture of lying, stealing, alcoholism, drug abuse, sexual abuse, etc. A group of people who are so excluded from normal society that they have almost no opportunity for a good education or getting any type of job. A group of people who are stuck in a cycle of poverty and prejudice, truly hopeless. Until Jesus... God is doing an amazing work among the Roma in Slovakia. They are being saved and changed by the hundreds and thousands. Roma churches of several hundred people are not uncommon. We have been working with these Roma people since 2010. We have been involved with evangelism, prayer ministry, youth ministry, and construction of Roma churches. We are so thankful that God has allowed us to be a part of what He is doing among these wonderful Roma people.
Check out an article in the Pentecostal Evangel about the same Roma that we work with in Slovakia. Click on the page to open and then you can click the arrows in the top left corner to go full-screen.